700 gallons of fuel spill at military surveillance complex on Maui
On the summit of Haleakalā, an estimated 700 gallons of diesel fuel spilled at the Maui Space Surveillance Complex, according to the U.S. Pacific Air Forces.
The spill was caused by the failure of a diesel fuel pump for an onsite backup generator to shut off during the night of Jan. 29. Site maintenance discovered the problem at 8 a.m. the following day and immediately deactivated the transfer pump.
The Air Force reports there were no injuries, and the cause of the failure is under review. Notification of the spill was made to the Department of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency.
“We understand the importance of being good stewards of the environment and will work with necessary state and federal officials as we begin clean-up efforts,” U.S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific commander Brig. Gen. Anthony Mastalir said in a news release.
Fuel spill experts from the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center will assess the site to begin remediation efforts.
The Maui Space Surveillance Complex tracks satellites and space debris using several telescopes.
The spill comes at a bad time for the military in Hawaiʻi.
The Navy’s World War II-era Red Hill underground fuel storage facility had a major leak in late 2021 that contaminated drinking water for thousands of residents living in military communities on and near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
And a few months ago, while Navy officials were preparing to drain the Red Hill tanks for permanent closure, a toxic firefighting foam compound was released accidentally at the facility.
Now, the fuel link on Maui.
“This 700-gallon fuel spill atop Haleakalā is completely unacceptable and very concerning for those who live and work near the summit,” said state Sen. Lynn DeCoite in a statement. “Haleakalā plays a crucial role in the ecosystem of Maui Island, and any contamination of our water sources and natural resources could have devastating effects.”
DeCoite said she will be monitoring the situation closely and will contact the Department of Health, the EPA and the U.S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific leadership to “ensure transparency throughout their entire investigation and to hold them accountable in keeping the community up-to-date on any major findings.”
State House Rep. Kyle Yamashita said in a statement that the spill is “deeply troubling. I will work closely with state and federal regulators to monitor this situation and hold the responsible parties accountable.”
State House Rep. Mahina Poepoe added in a statement that she was alarmed by the spill that occured on “our sacred ‘āina entrusted to the United States Military. Poor stewardship is not acceptable, and there is absolutely no legitimate excuse for continuing to create environmental emergencies.”